Knuckles is known as one of the most wonderful, amazing hiking trails in Sri Lanka. Knuckles mountain range located in Matale, Central Province of Sri Lanka, is an UNESCO world heritage site and also a biodiversity hotspot.
Most popular hiking spot in knuckles is Duwili ella, which is considered as one of the toughest hiking trails in the country. This is about Gombaniya peak (1906 m), the highest peak of knuckles mountain range. It is situated at Alakola estate in Hulu ganga.
It was a sudden plan and we packed our stuff to stay one night at the peak. So, our journey was planned for two days. We got the bus from the Petta bus stand early in the morning and arrived to Kandy. From there we arranged a van to Alakola estate. From the upper division of Alakola estate we had to walk with our belongings due to terrible road conditions.
Before entering the actual trail, we had to walk a few kilometers inside the village. There were line houses at the estate.
Figure 1 Rathnathanna Line Houses
As we didn’t hire any travel guide, we got help from a villager. He directed us to the trail, and he mentioned “there will be a clear path and once you see a red ribbon hanging on a tree from there turn up”. So, we gave him a small tip and happily trekked on the clear path. After trekking for a few hours, we reached a steep bamboo forest where that is a dead end. Only option we had that time was, turn back and find that red ribbon. Since we came all the way from the slippery path, we had some chocolates and glucose to energize ourselves. Then we turned back through a slippery pathway while searching for the ribbon and foot path. Luckily, we saw a relatively clear footpath and then we start to find the red ribbon. Then we found that too. That is the most amazing part of the hike.
Figure 4 Misty forest
Figure 5 Cloudy peaks
Figure 7 Tall and old or dense and young
Then after climbing few hours through slippery rocks and dense forest, we reached the top. It was tough though. We had a long rest at the peak while enjoying the view. But it was misty.
Figure 6 Misty peak view
Initially we had an idea to camp at the top. But once we arrived there all of us agreed to not to camp there due to the unfavorable conditions such as High wind, Mist, narrow peak and no any source of water. It is worth climbing.
On the way to the peak we saw summer huts near a water body. So, we decided to camp there, and we finally reached there at night.
We had a bath and set up two tents on the flat surface above the stream. We were able to find some firewood and had the campfire. We prepared some noodles for dinner.
Figure 9 Camping tents in the forest
Cold night was awesome under the billion stars. Even though the hike was tough, the camping site was more comfortable than my previous camping experiences. Because we were in a safer place and few houses are visible to our camping site. We can ask for any help, equipment or sanitary facilities if needed. We woke up early in the morning and had bread with butter for breakfast and then started to roam.
Then again, we found an awesome place to bath and had lunch there.
Figure 11 Second bathing spot
Then our descending trip was started, and we came back through many shortcuts and finally caught the bus.
Figure 12 "Way down we go"
Figure 15 The crew